Champion surfer Tia Blanco is a vegan
Champion surfer, Tia Blanco, choses a vegan lifestyle, and has found it to have a positive impact on her performance. As she grew up in California and Hawaii, Tia Blanco took to surfing at a young age, and by age 17, she was already winning national titles. She now lives in Southern California. She represented Puerto Rico as a pro-surfer in the Pan-Am Games, and continues to compete at a high level, ranking in the top 50 female surfers internationally.
To maintain this level of performance, she trains daily, spending up to 8 hours a day in the water or working out on land.
She says, “I feel healthier on a clean, whole foods diet that is very simple — especially during competition. And since a plant-based diet is less calorically dense than other diets, I need to make sure I’m eating enough food so I up my portions a lot. I think of veggies as nutrition and water, not a food where I can get energy so I don’t even count veggies when I’m counting calories and nutrition. For energy, I go to potatoes, whole grains, and starchy veggies. I’m obsessed with carrots and sweet potatoes.”
She also makes sure to consume plenty of legumes and nuts, along with protein shakes, although she admits that’s more because she likes the taste, as she doesn’t feel short of protein.
Having been raised vegetarian, Tia decided to go vegan in 2013 after thinking about her food choices carefully. She recognizes the benefits of a vegan diet from both a compassion for animals, environmental and a health perspective, and has become active in promoting plant-based diets. Although she’s very open about her ethical beliefs regarding animals when it comes to veganism, and how a vegan diet has fueled her through her impressive athletic accomplishments to date, Blanco strives to keep her relationship with food and others positive — especially with so many other pro surfers adhering to meat-heavy Paleo diets.
“I definitely get my haters,” she says. “Even when I was vegetarian not everyone agreed with it, obviously. But I don’t push my beliefs on others. I express the benefits if people are asking, and in my case people were asking. I never tell people how to eat. Respect what’s on my plate, I’ll respect what’s on yours.”